Curtis Lofton Explains why the Bounty Scandal didn’t Factor into his Decision to Sign with New Orleans, Turned Down More Money Elsewhere

There aren’t a lot of positive stories out of New Orleans right now, at least from a pro football standpoint. But somewhat lost in the fallout from the bounty scandal sentences and a small exodus of veteran Saints free agents was the signing of Curtis Lofton. The 25-year-old linebacker not only immediately bolsters the New Orleans front seven, but his presence in the Bayou also hurts the division-rival Falcons, who now have a gap to fill in their own linebacker corps. Curtis Lofton joined 790 The Zone in Atlanta to discuss his decision to jump from one NFC South powerhouse to another. He explained the process that led him from Atlanta to New Orleans, touched on whether or not the Falcons made a competitive offer and obviously spoke about why the bounty scandal didn’t stop him from signing with the Saints.

On if with hindsight he saw the writing on the wall with this move well before it happened:

“No. I mean, you’ve gotta figure that the team’s gonna do what’s best for them, and teams put a certain value on guys and other teams value that guy more. And that’s what happened in this situation. And the Falcons are gonna be OK. They’ve got a great player in Akeem Dent and I wish him the best.”

On how stressful this process has been:

“Well personally, I never thought that I was ever gonna hit free agency. I thought I was gonna end my career with Atlanta, but that’s not the way it always goes. And so I was a little excited, scared, anxious — it was like an emotional roller coaster. And once I started getting teams that hit me up and said they were interested — and I field those teams offers, but I really didn’t wanna just jump on anything. I wanted to sit back, be patient and find the right fit for me, for the style I play. I had my fundraiser and my agent texted me and said, ‘We’re going to the Saints,’ and it was awesome. I’m not gonna lie, it’s a little bitter-sweet — you play against a team and you hate ‘em, but at the end of the day we’re all a brothership and I’m excited to be going down to New Orleans.”

On if the Falcons ever made him an official offer:

“Yes. We had great talks. They were actually the first team to offer me (a contract). And we started going through the process, negotiating, going back and forth, and we just couldn’t come to a deal that we thought was fair for both sides and it’s best that I move on.”

On how the fallout from the bounty scandal affected the team’s ability to pitch him on New Orleans:

“I was there before any of that ruling happened. But they’re kind of using the mentality ‘it’s us vs. them.’ Everyone’s out to get them and let’s just all make this team strong. I’m happy to be a part of it, and I’m gonna bring my leadership to this team and help in the best way I can.”

On if he spoke with Sean Payton directly and asked him about the scandal:

“Yes. Once I got to New Orleans, they kinda rolled the red carpet out for me, and I had anybody that was anybody I got to see. And I had three or four meetings with Coach Payton, and I really like him. He’s a strong coach, great coach, great offensive mind, and also defensive mind. And they said that ‘We will go on. We don’t know everything that’s gonna happen but we will go on, and no need to worry.’ He said, ‘I missed a couple games last year with my knee and the team went on and actually took another step when I was gone.’ So he expects the team to do the same thing.”

On if the bounty scandal caused him to hesitate about signing there:

“For me there really wasn’t any thought towards that stuff, because I didn’t have anything to do with the bounties. Like I said, I played with Atlanta the last four years, so I don’t really care about all that stuff. What excited me was to be going to a great team that has a chance of winning the Super Bowl, that has great fans that rally behind their team. And that’s what I was looking forward to, and playing with great players.”

On if he gets personally upset that teams might undervalue him and believe he might not be a three-down linebacker:

“That kind of makes me laugh, but yeah. As much as you don’t wanna put any personal and you wanna set the emotions aside, yeah there is a little bit of that. A guy goes and lays his heart on the line and never missed a game, did everything you asked, and this is what you do? It kinda leaves a bad taste in my mouth, but at the same time this is a business. And a team going to do what’s best for them and they thought it’s best that they go in another direction, and it’s best for me to go in another direction. Just happy to be in the situation I am.”

On if he’s insulted by the notion he’s not an effective three-down linebacker:

“The thing that got me was, I played 50 percent of snaps in my first year, 95 (percent) my second, 95 my third and 99 my last. And in those three years where I was playing three downs, and two years it never came up and it’s just funny that it’s my contract year and now I’m only a first- and second-down linebacker.”

On if there were teams that offered him more money than New Orleans did:

“There was, but for me it really wasn’t about the highest bidder. Of course I wanted to secure my future and my family’s future, and I wanted to go to a team that had a chance at winning a Super Bowl, so I felt like the Saints gave me the best opportunity for my skill set.”

On how strange it will feel to don those Saints colors for the first time:

“Oh man, people keep on requesting me to say ‘Who dat?’ and it still kinda makes my skin crawl, but it’s gonna take a while to get used to. I don’t know how I’m gonna feel about putting on those colors. They do say black is slimming, so that’s a benefit. And I’m really excited, you guys, to start this next chapter and play for them.”

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